It took the best part of half-an-hour to find my river feet and eventually stand up. Frustratingly - for me - I was the last person to get onto my feet and as a result I was drifting way behind the rest of the group. Being at the back always brings up those dark thoughts of: "I'm slowing down the rest of the team". During that first half-an-hour all that was going through my head was: "If I can't get to my feet now, how am I going to do 165 miles on the challenge", feeling like I'm letting myself down, the team and everything we've worked towards so far.
I was beginning to really enjoy the art of stand up paddle boarding and a huge smile was appearing across my face; how have I never discovered this before?! During the latter part of the session the sun began to set, taking with it the warmth of the spring day. This gave the river a beauty that I've never witnessed before even though I've been living near the Thames for the best part of 6-years. There was something rather magical about floating in the centre of the river as the sun dipped below the horizon with the background sound of chirping birds and quacking ducks. I had forgotten that I was within a bustling metropolis and, not only that, the capital city of the UK. The beauty was astounding.
Stand up paddleboarding:
The return leg of the session was easier to paddle as we were now travelling down stream, going with the current. This was fun and allowed us to cover the same distance in a fraction of the time. On this return leg, I felt invincible and a little over-confident to the point where I almost went head first into the river. Luckily, I regained my balance and stayed on the board. It was enough to put me in my place and to respect the river that I was on.
Overall, it was a successful first session and I look forward to getting more and more confident on the board before loading it up with equipment and beginning the challenge in July. We will try and keep this blog up-to-date throughout the preparation and the challenge itself. Don't forget to subscribe to avoid missing out.